Bad wrist? Try using the other one instead!

Comments specifically about gestures and mouse actions - on any FW product.

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Bad wrist? Try using the other one instead!

Postby Shawn_Milo » 01 Mar 2006, 19:31

If I rotate my right wrist, it sounds like someone is walking on gravel or grinding something. It feels like a knuckle that needs to be cracked, but if I get a pop sound it doesn't really alleviate the discomfort. The only solution that works is to stop using it.

The interesting thing is that it only happens when I'm using a computer. I practice kung fu, drive, do card magic, and anything else just fine. Further troubleshooting has led me to believe that it's due to pointing and clicking. I started using my iGesture pad with my left hand, and just using the right to type. It seems to be working amazingly!

I put one of those gel-filled squeezy balls where my iGesture used to be, and if I reach for it reflexively with my right hand I end up grabbing it, then I squeeze it a little for exercise. It works out well.

The iGesture seems to automatically recognize when I'm doing the mirror of a right-handed gesture with my left hand, which is awesome.

So, if any of you have a huge problem with one wrist and not the other, consider switching your touchpad/mouse/whatever to the other side and leave it there. It took me maybe 9 years of computer use to get this bad, so I figure I can use my left wrist until there is a revolution computer input devices, or maybe switch back to the right when it starts to hurt in 8 or 9 years. ;o)

Has anyone else noticed anything similar? It doesn't matter if I'm using a mouse or a FingerWorks product. It's always painful after a while. I think it's because I'm making such fine, precise movements all the time. If you think you're not, try doing it left-handed for a while. ;o) I'm still kind of learning to do it lefty, but it's working for me.

Oh yeah, one other weird thing. Since I switched, I am feeling something that is extremely difficult to describe. As I type (touch-type, Dvorak layout), my right hand sometimes feels weird, as though it's a little unsure of itself, and is now secondary to the left hand, which feels dominant. I don't make typos or anything, it just feels *weird*.

Comments or other people's experiences are requested. Is anyone else experiencing similar things?
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Postby jmadison » 01 Mar 2006, 20:38

With RSI in both left and right hands and forearms, I've also been switching for quite some time now. I actually started mousing with my left hand many years ago, and got pretty good at switching from left to right whenever one hand got fatigued. Soon enough, the mouse was just too much, and I went to a trackball (Logitech Marble) It's my favorite trackball because of its shape and that it's completly symmetrical for right or left hand use. Most other trackballs are meant for only one or the other and many of them require the use of the thumb to roll the ball, which is like ASKing for RSI.

Anyway, with my TS LP keyboard, I regularly switch from left to right and back again many times during the day. I set up the "Invisible" keys below the F6 and F12 to do the "swap hands" event. I've found that this helps a lot. (BTW, I touch-type Dvorak on a Burgundy QWERTY TS).

The only real trouble I have with left/right switching throughout the day is when I am mousing left, walk away from my desk for a while and then sit back down. My brain always thinks that I start by mousing righty. So, I'll tap the TS with my right hand to wipe off the screen saver, but I'll be issuing arrow commands... because the hands are switched. Then it takes a second or two to actually -find- the mouse pointer on the screen.

Also, I know exactly what you mean by the sounds and feeling in your wrists. I experience that too. And, like you said, when I move them around and do get a pop, it feels good, but dosen't alleviate the gravel grinding. To help me with all of this, I also use the Workrave Break Reminder software.... which is telling me right now that I've typed a little too long... so I'd better post this and stretch my wrists a little.

Anyway, that's my experience...
-Jason
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 01 Mar 2006, 21:12

Jason,

So, what's the deal with the RSI -- is it something that only effects you while using a computer?

Also, as far as you know are there any permanent effects from this condition, requiring eventual surgery or causing permanent disability?

Do you have any discomfort or difficulty if you only type?

I think if my problem was as bad in my left as my right I would probably have to find a new job which had nothing to do with computers.

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Postby jmadison » 01 Mar 2006, 21:50

A little history: I'm 31 years old and have been using computers since I was old enough to type "Load "Program File",8,1" on my Commodore64. Before that I was playing games on my Atari, or the neighbor's Colecovision. I'm a Mechanical Engineer, and have done a lot of CAD work. I've never been a fast typist, but 40wpm (QWERTY) was fast enough for me. I started having problems even when I was a teen. I remember visiting the doctor with my mom and he was checking out my left wrist. The diagnosis at the time: I wasn't moving it enough. Okay... I started more exercises.

In college I started playing guitar, and my computer usage went up dramatically. I was -always- on the computer just to keep up my grades. I'v been playing guitar semi-regularly now for 12 years.

All the while I've had increasing difficulty with both my forearms and wrists. At my first out-of-college job, I insisted on an ergonomic keyboard before I even hired in. (MS Natural Keyboard). I saw some doc's there and was given more exersises to do to keep things limber.

My second job (same place I am now) required me to do a lot more CAD work than my first job. I did some light programming, CAD, wrote and maintained a website, spreadsheets... you name it. Always on the computer. The CAD is by far the worst... mousing ALL THE TIME. So, the pain increased. I started teaching myself to write with my left hand. (looked like a first graders' handwriting) Finally I realized that I was avoiding my work if I had to click too much. I found some software that helped with that. Also, I got some devices... the trackball... different mouses... a detachable numeric keypad. I told my supervisor about it when I noticed it. I seriously thought I'd have to change careers. I went to Mayo Clinic (I live close to Rochester, MN) and was diagnosed with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome in my left forearm (note this is not carpel tunnel) and general RSI. The thing that I learned most from my sessions with the physical theripists and hand-specialists is that they really don't know a lot about RSI yet. It's a pretty new thing, and any -good- doctor won't advise surgery until there is clearly something both identifiable, and fixable to do, and as long as the benefits will outweigh the drawbacks. There are a lot of unnecessary surgeries that go on... and too many blame carpel tunnel, when it's really not.

Anyway, back to your questions... It does affect me in my everyday living. I have about 80% of the range of motion in my left hand compared to my right. That bothers me, but there's not much I can do about it. I try to
stretch regularly, and I'm careful not to over-stretch anything. Too much guitar is a problem, too much computer is a problem... too much scooping ice cream...

I can produce permanent damage. It would probably be classified as "tendonitis". Again, ask a well trained doctor and they'll tell you that tendonitis means "something's wrong with your tendons, but we don't know what."

There is no real help that surgery can offer. The cubital tunnel can be helped by moving the ulner nerve to the other side of the elbow, but that just relocates the problem... it can come back again in the new location.

Fortunately enough for me, I found the TS keyboard just at the time that I was going through the physical therapy. It was pretty easy to convince the company to buy one for me. And if they hadn't, I would have bought
it myself. But that has dramatically reduced my problem. Most of my trouble came because of the mousing and clicking... and there was worsened by having to reach between the mouse and the keyboard. The TS helped that a lot. Then I learned about Dvorak, and took the plunge to learn how to touch type all over again. I wish the whole world would switch to Dvorak... it would help a lot of people.

Basically, at this point I consider my problem manageable. If I'm careful... use my TS... do my breaks and stretches... I can go without serious fatigue, and I can prevent further injury. If my TS ever dies on me, though, I'm going to have to rethink my input options. I keep a list of Ergo devices whenever I come across something new, and I'm always considering what options are out there.

So, that's my story (or at least a part of it)....
-Jason
Last edited by jmadison on 01 Mar 2006, 21:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Shawn_Milo » 01 Mar 2006, 21:55

Thanks for the story -- interesting stuff! I'm about the same age -- 28, and I played a ton of video games before I got into computers also.

I guess human evolution just has to catch up with the reality that we no longer have to throw spears or run miles to catch some food, but we have to make very fine movements with our upper extremeties all the time in order to afford to live indoors with plumbing and heat.

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Postby nomaded » 02 Mar 2006, 06:26

I would also like to thank you for your story, Jason.

I'm the same age as Jason (well, almost; I will turn 31 this calendar year), and luckily, I have no developed any major problems with my hands. I do get some problems with my thumbs when playing console video games on a controller - especially the PSX/PS2 ones.

I started using a TouchStream keyboard more for it's novelty than necessity. It was mostly from a desire to be able to type and point without needing to take my hands off the keyboard. I had some half-hearted attempts at learning some keyboard chording on my left hand while using a trackball on my right. Then I read an early article about FingerWorks and loved the idea, but they were still in the prototype stages. About a year later, I randomly encounter their site and see they had iGesturePads out and the TouchStream Mini, but no full sized keyboards. I took the plunge on the Mini, and loved it! I loved that I could type and point from the same device, without moving my hands much.

After a couple months of trying to touch-type on the cramped TouchStream Mini keyboard, the first Stealths (STs) were shipping and I sold the Mini, and scrounged up enough for the Stealth. Again, I loved it! Even including the several months of learning how to type all over again - what I really should have done was switch to Dvorak at the time, but my typing speed was so bad that I couldn't afford to type even slower (I was using the Stealth at work).

Flash forward 3 years, 1 LP and 2 MacNTouches later, FingerWorks shuts down and a small but dedicated group of users mourn the loss.

Again, for novelty's sake (and to try to prevent future damage), I decided to learn Dvorak, about 9 months ago. I won't say that I'm fully proficient at Dvorak with the typos I do make, but I think I'm doing good since I do sysadmin work for a living, so I do need to interact with Qwerty layouts on a fairly regular basis. But all my personal computers default to Dvorak.

If it ever becomes an issue, I hope I'm able to readily adapt to using (and possibly writing) with my left hand as you guys have.

I wish you guys good health and happy gesturing.
@nomaded

TouchStream Mini - February 26, 2002 - Sold
TouchStream Stealth - March 18, 2002 - Windows 7 Ultimate (home)
TouchStream MacNTouch (white) - July 23, 2003 - Retired
TouchStream LP - March 31, 2004 - In storage
TouchStream MacNTouch (silver) - December 1, 2004 - In storage
Stenovations Digitouch (dvorak) - 2007 - Windows 7 Ultimate (work)
Stenovations Digitouch (dvorak) - 2007 - In storage
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Postby jmadison » 02 Mar 2006, 15:48

One thing I've noticed about learning Dvorak is how my brain automatically switches the layout. It's kind of funny. I got serious about Dvorak about 3 1/2 years ago. At first Dvorak was alien, and qwerty was home. Then Qwerty was alien and Dvorak was home. Now I'm proficient in both layouts.

But, the funny thing is that I can type very easily in Dvorak on my TS, and whenever my hands feel "real keys" under my fingers, I automatically start typing in qwerty. No real thinking involved. The only real trouble is one old laptop that I keep around. I actually popped off all the keys and re-arranged them into Dvorak. Then I set KDE to default to Dvorak keymapping. On this computer I have to conciously remember to type in Dvorak. At first I just type in qwerty... so automatic... but I stop for a second and think... Dvorak... okay, type easier.
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